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Quick advice on cooking pre-prepared chicken

Vrtra TheoryVrtra Theory Registered User regular
Need some quick advice before I cook dinner in another 5 hours or so.

I am hopeless at cooking chicken -- it's always too dry, or too tough, or tastes like nothing, or all three. Today I thought I'd finally try some of that more expensive, pre-prepared chicken they have at the meat counter -- you know, they've got all this chicken cordon bleu, chicken kiev, chicken with lemon herb, etc. So I picked up some chicken cordon bleu, and the guy at the counter said it's easy -- just cook it at around 350 for 25 minutes or so, check the temp, and you're good.

Being paranoid, I bought one more than I needed to, so I could cook it for lunch and see how it turned out. I put it on a baking sheet, 350 for 25 minutes. It tasted good, but the outside was still starting to toughen and the whole thing was just dryer than it should be.

Is there anyone who knows exactly what I should do to when I cook these things tonight? I've debated wrapping them individually in foil, or maybe covering all of them in one big piece of foil, but then do I need to spray the foil in butter/non-stick? Will the chicken just cook to the foil and tear off all horrible when I unwrap them? etc.

Any clues or advice on cooking this theoretically easy meal would be much appreciated!

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Posts

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    It's all dependent on the thickness of the breast. If it's a thin breast? About 15-20 minutes. If it's a bit on the thicker side, you will probably want to do 30-40.

    I'd just grab some chicken breasts, and head over you the marinade/seasoning section of your supermarket and look at the mccormick marinade mixes. Pour it into a bag, toss it all in with your chicken into a roasting pan, and done.

    Also if you're putting it on a metal cookie sheet, that might be part of the problem.

    Get something like this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-Bakeware-2-Quart-Oval-Roaster/dp/B0008155EW/
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Metallic-26639-Nonstick-Petite/dp/B00134LXB2/

    Ladies.
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    I don't think it will stick to the foil, though I also see no problem with

    But my advice is just searing them really short in a pan with a lid to get a little golden and then put on the lid and put it on low for like 20 minutes or so. Maybe less. You can also put the pan in the oven if you prefer, might be safer. Maybe add a little water too.

    But basically you want to contain the moisture to keep the chicken from drying out and getting rubbery. So you want to heat it in a humid environment or protect it by wrapping it in foil or brining it or any other number of methods that keep the moisture in.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Buy an instant read thermometer and cook it to temp (165 F). That temp is the "safe" temp and will likely get recommended anywhere, however in practice you might prefer to pull it at a lower temp (I often pull it at 160). No one will counsel lower temp due to liability and salmonella, but chicken breast is difficult cause it's so lean. It goes from perfect juicy done-ness to dry and overcooked very quickly.

    Brining gives you more wiggle room, but you probably cannot do that to something that has already been prepared (cut open and stuffed). If you wanted to do that you should brine before, and then do prep like stuffing after the brine. Also fattier cuts (like the thigh) would give you more wiggle room when cooking.

    bowentinwhiskersCabezoneJulius
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    yeah, breast has much less leniency, especially off the bone. i'd recommend pan frying it hot for 5 minutes, then giving it another 15 or so in the oven. the frying seals it up so it loses less moisture and the oven ensures it's cooked through

    sC4Q4nq.jpg
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    This wont' help you for tonight but you may want to consider it in the future.

    A sous vide supreme has turned chicken cooking into a breeze for me. I cook mine to 150 and it's pretty damn awesome, finish on a grill or in a pan.

    Julius
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    bsjezz wrote: »
    yeah, breast has much less leniency, especially off the bone. i'd recommend pan frying it hot for 5 minutes, then giving it another 15 or so in the oven. the frying seals it up so it loses less moisture and the oven ensures it's cooked through

    You can't actually seal meat in this way, it's basically old cooking urban legend. Searing is purely for flavor.

    Cabezone on
    Cog
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Cabezone wrote: »
    bsjezz wrote: »
    yeah, breast has much less leniency, especially off the bone. i'd recommend pan frying it hot for 5 minutes, then giving it another 15 or so in the oven. the frying seals it up so it loses less moisture and the oven ensures it's cooked through

    You can't actually seal meat in this way, it's basically old cooking urban legend. Searing is purely for flavor.
    Yeah and for flavour just sear it high for like a minute, you don't need much longer than that.

    Also DJeet has it correct that keeping it at very low heat also works. It's just that that takes way longer. And you need the thermometer. I figured you had neither the time nor the equipment.

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    Cabezone wrote: »
    bsjezz wrote: »
    yeah, breast has much less leniency, especially off the bone. i'd recommend pan frying it hot for 5 minutes, then giving it another 15 or so in the oven. the frying seals it up so it loses less moisture and the oven ensures it's cooked through

    You can't actually seal meat in this way, it's basically old cooking urban legend. Searing is purely for flavor.

    wow, turns out you actually lose more moisture from sealing. the more you know! makes sense to seal -er, sear- anyway though, just because it gives you that delicious maillard reaction that makes stuff taste so good.

    sC4Q4nq.jpg
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    Food science is the best science....well..for everyday pleasure.

  • CogCog Registered User regular
    I've debated wrapping them individually in foil, or maybe covering all of them in one big piece of foil, but then do I need to spray the foil in butter/non-stick? Will the chicken just cook to the foil and tear off all horrible when I unwrap them? etc.

    Non-Stick foil is magical for this kind of thing.

    0001090000114_500X500.jpg

  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    You've got some good tips above, so this is sort of tangential advice, but I'd nix buying the pre-season/prepared stuff anyway. You're usually buying last week's shipment coated in spices and sauces to stretch its shelf life. YMMV based on your grocer, but I'd just avoid it if you're looking to improve your cooking/eating enjoyment.

    TychoCelchuuuJulius
  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    You could try a Romertopf clay cooker for your chicken, Clay pot cooker amazon link

    You soak the pot in water for about half an hour, put the chicken into it with whatever spices / flavours your into, put it into a cold oven and then turn it on.

    The pot seals in all the steam and flavours while also releasing a bit of the water from the pot itself, and you get super moist delicious chicken out if in with no risk of over cooking.

    Foomy on
    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
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